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Good Wife or Public Wife? The Evolving Role of Egypt’s First Ladies

December 3, 2021

The role of the first lady has been continuously evolving, yet it remains to be a role without a clear identity or rulebook, and no real understanding of its importance, impact or contribution to the politics of a nation. As former First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, once noted, “the role of First Lady is whatever the First Lady wants it to be.” Seen as merely the ‘feminine window dressing’ to the presidency, the first lady has always lived in the shadows of her husband. Historically, she has been associated with that of a hostess who greets guests and simply attends events with her husband. Fulfilling her function as a ‘good wife and mother’, she became more of an image – a portrait hung on the walls of the presidential palace, but not a voice that is heard or read in history books. Today, this historical role is gradually expanding as the role of women in society is also changing. Since political leadership is also a symbol of society, it would be hypocritical for presidents to advocate for women’s rights while their wives remain completely excluded and absent…

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